Weekly Intelligence Notes #19-03
WIN 19-03 dated 19 May 2003
Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) are produced and edited by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members and WIN subscribers. RADM (ret) Don Harvey contributes articles to selected WINs
CONTENTS of this WIN
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TERRORIST STRIKES CAUSE NEW ALERTS ACROSS GLOBE -- Islamic extremist terrorists, reportedly associated with al-Qaeda, struck at multiple targets in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Chechnya (highest number of casualties) during roughly the same time period, while Palestinian suicide bombers executed attacks in Israel. In addition, Pakistan reported attacks on Shell and CALTEX gas stations, Lebanon was able to prevent an attack on the US Embassy, the Algerian Army hunted terrorists who abducted fifteen Europeans held in exchange for Islamic prisoners, and Britain halted flights to Kenya because of extreme danger signals.
The attacks in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Chechnya all involved careful planning, preparation and intelligence gathering, a team of terrorists working together, killing of guards to gain entry, and suicide bombers to complete the mission, using trucks laden with explosives. In SAUDI ARABIA there were attacks on: (1) THE JEDAWAL COMPOUND, which killed one Saudi Military Guard manning watch post at rear corner of compound. The assailants then drove the explosive laden car up to the next gate in the back of the compound, where it was detonated. The terrorist's safe house -- which was raided by Saudi authorities on 6 May -- was only 400 meters from the Jedawal Compound. (2) THE CORDOVAL COMPOUND, located on a Saudi National Guard (SANG) controlled facility, was initially attacked with a Ford Crown Victoria sedan, which attempted to ram through the gate. When the car became stuck, terrorists from a pick-up truck dismounted and attacked the guard post. A firefight ensued, killing all Saudi National Guard personnel. The terrorists then forced open the gate, and drove the pick-up on the compound to residence housing, where it was detonated (initial estimate suggests 400-500 kilograms of HE may have been used). (3) THE AL-HAMRA COMPOUND, attacked when a Toyota sedan pulled up to the gate, followed by a GMC Suburban truck. An unknown number of terrorists dismounted from the truck and attacked the unarmed guard force, forcing their way into the compound after shooting and injuring one guard. Both vehicles then drove toward the center of the compound, the terrorists shooting wildly into buildings and at anything that moved. Upon reaching a housing area south of the main recreation and sports complex, an explosive device in the GMC Suburban was detonated by a suicide terrorist.
In MOROCCO, the terrorist team reportedly was given its mission by Ayman Zuwahri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the most dangerous operational arm of al Qaeda. One of the suicide bombers was identified as Egyptian, a second was a reserve officer of the Abu Dhabi armed forces. The team reportedly reached the Moroccan port of Tangiers several months ago – without its trail being picked up - in two groups; one from Italy, the second from Belgium, some of them wending their way from Egypt, Sudan and Yemen. They were said to have been hosted by the radical Moroccan Assirat al-Moustaquim (Followers of the Straight Path) who also supplied them with weapons and explosives. The targets selected were two-edged -- one aimed at Jewish targets (Casablanca Jewish community center, a Jewish-owned restaurant, and a hotel frequented by Israelis), and one where Osama bin Laden was implicitly striking at the Saudi royal presence in the kingdom of Morocco, where almost every prince of any importance – from Crown Prince Abdullah down -- maintains a palace and harem for frequent recreational visits. Members of the two royal houses are also joined by business ties accompanied by the inevitable court intrigue.
The bottomline appears to be (1) that no one, not even the Israelis dealing with a totally infiltrated captive target population, can completely prevent these types of attacks; (2) that al-Qaeda is finding plenty of recruits for its moralistic religious-extremist crusade against Western (including Russian) interests in the Muslim world; (3) that the royal house of Saudi Arabia is a prime target, along with Americans, Israelis and Russians; (4) that the terrorists remain capable of mounting complicated, well-planned operations involving considerable lead-times and many personnel, in spite of billions in US intelligence resources, and in spite of frequent and considerable successes achieved by US and allied (and Israeli) counter-terrorist operations, and lastly, (5) that given the above, it is vital to restrain panic-driven excessive language, scape-goating or over-the-top actions and reactions -- we need consistent, persistent, rational, effective national and international collaborative counter-terrorism. (Jonkers) (Potential Indicators of Threats Involving Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), May 15, 2003, Risk Assessment Div., Information Analysis Directorate, Department of Homeland Security //FBI Special Agent G. Harter)(Debka File 19 May03) (http://www.debka.com/article_print.php?aid=492)
US COUP PLOTTING IN IRAQ -- With Iraq conquered and Saddam Hussein's regime deposed, U.S. and Iraqi sources have now provided an account of the unsuccessful strategy of deposing Saddam by a coup d'etat during the 1990's, an effort reportedly known within CIA by the cryptonum "DBACHILLES" . The failed coup efforts carry some important lessons. They show that Iraqi intelligence penetrated the Iraqi exile-based operations. And they illustrate the damage caused by a long-running feud between Iraqi exile groups and their patrons in Washington. A media-based report follows.
The DBACHILLES project began in 1994. The CIA around that time appointed a new head of its Near East Division named Stephen Richter (whose identity was long ago published), and proceeded on the basic assumption that large parts of the Iraqi army might support a coup. The CIA's new Iraq team is said to have met soon afterward with Gen. Mohammed Abdullah Shawani, a former commander of Iraqi Special Forces. A Turkmen from Mosul, Shawani had many contacts in the Iraqi military, including several sons still in uniform (Shawani's name has previously been published too). As the CIA was drafting its plans, the British encouraged the agency to contact an experienced Iraqi exile named Ayad Alawi, who headed a network of current and former Iraqi military officers and Baath Party operatives known as Wifaq, the Arabic word for "trust." (Note: An Iraqi source now argues that by late 1995, some of Shawani's and Alawi's operatives were already controlled by Iraqi intelligence).
Complicating the CIA's coup planning was a similar effort in northern Iraq by Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress. A CIA officer named Bob Baer was dispatched in January 1995 to coordinate the various covert efforts, but they only got more tangled. Chalabi launched his coup attempt in March 1995, but it was unsuccessful and Baer was summoned home to Washington. Chalabi was convinced that the military-coup plan had been compromised and traveled to Washington in March 1996 to see the new CIA director, John Deutch, and his deputy, George Tenet. He told them the Iraqis had captured an Egyptian courier who was carrying an Inmarsat satellite phone to Shawani's sons in Baghdad. When the CIA officials seemed unconvinced, for their own good reasons, Chalabi then went to his friend Richard Perle, a prominent neoconservative. Perle is said to have called Tenet and urged that an outside committee review the Iraq situation. But the coup planning went ahead. DBACHILLES succeeded in reaching a number of senior Iraqi military officers, but was compromised and collapsed in a blood bath in June 1996. The Iraqis began arresting the coup plotters on June 26. At least 200 officers were seized and more than 80 were executed, including Shawani's sons. Top CIA officials reportedly blamed Chalabi for exposing the plot, and the recrimination has persisted ever since.
As a follow-on to the coup plotting, in the run-up to, and during the invasion, both Alawi and Shawani played important roles in the US/UK effort to encourage Iraqi officers to surrender or defect. It did not quite work out that way. The Iraqi military did not defect or surrender, they just went home. (Jonkers) (Wash Post, 16 May 2003, page A29 //David Ignatius)
U.S. VULNERABILITY TO CYBER ATTACK -- More than 20 months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States remains ill-prepared to defend against a strike on the nation's critical computer systems because of slow-moving federal research efforts, members of Congress said Wednesday. They charged that instead of working at breakneck ``Internet time,'' the four key agencies charged with researching new technologies to combat cyber attacks are stuck in the glacial world of ``government time,'' still crafting memorandums of understanding to allow collaboration on projects. (Levine 05/15) (http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/5864653.htm)(http://www.fcw.com/fcw/articles/2003/0512/web-strategy-05-15-03.asp)(http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/22103-1.html)
US CYBER-CRIME CENTRAL -- Forget Third-World cyber-terrorism -- the top cyber-criminals are Americans. A British security company called ICC Commercial Crime Services has reported that 63 per cent of the world’s cyber-crime originates in the United States. The company’s annual review has made a detailed analysis of the major cybercrime events from January 2002 to March 2003, and found that hacking and fraud are the most common offences. (Levine 05/15) (http://www.globetechnology.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030514.gtcrimemay14/BNS tory/Technology/)
GUATEMALA 1952-1954 DECLASSIFIED -- The State Department and the CIA have declassified and published thousands of pages of documents concerning the U.S. covert action in Guatemala that led to the overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman in 1954.
-See Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) (1954) devoted to Guatemala, 1952-54, (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ike/guat/).
-A 1983 FRUS volume concerning Guatemala in the same period drew widespread criticism because it omitted mention of the CIA- instigated coup. The State Department has posted the relevant portions of that earlier volume here -http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/ike/iv/.
-The CIA has published an impressive selection of declassified documents reflecting its role in the 1954 Guatemala coup - see http://www.foia.cia.gov/guatemala.asp. (Secrecy News 19 May 03)
MORE UK SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE (SOE) FILES RELEASED --The Public Record Office of the United Kingdom announced its latest monthly release, including declassified personnel files of the World War II-era Special Operations Executive (SOE) relating to "a number of the more celebrated SOE agents, and to individuals who achieved fame outside of their work for SOE." See:http://www.pro.gov.uk/releases/may2003/soe_list.htm. Additional historical background concerning many of these SOE agents may be found at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWsoe.htm. (Secrecy News 19 May 03)
IN MEMORIAM -- SALUTE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS -- The FBI recently revealed, based on its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, that 52 law-enforcement officers nationwide were slain in line of duty during CY 2002, and another 76 officers were accidentally killed on duty. Fourteen officers were slain in ambush, 10 were murdered answering disturbance calls, 10 during traffic pursuits and stops, 10 during arrest situations, 8 while investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, and 4 by mentally deranged individuals. Firearms were used in 51 of these 56 deaths. Without law and order, there is no society and no democracy, as the current situation in Baghdad again makes clear. We value our colleagues in law enforcement, and render our salute to the men (and women??) who did their duty and paid the ultimate price - for all of us. (Jonkers) (WashTimes, 13 May 03, p. A7)
AFIO NATIONAL LUNCHEON: Tuesday, 24 June 2003 at the Holiday Inn, Tysons Corner, McLean, Virginia, 10:30 (registration begins), Program - 11 a.m. our first speaker is John Prados, author of "Lost Crusader" who will talk about his book on DCI Colby. After lunch (three course, salad, roast beef, desert, coffee) the 1 pm speakers will be Milt Bearden (CIA ret) and James Risen, NYTimes journalist, who will talk about "The Main Enemy: The Inside Story of the CIA's Final Showdown with the KGB." Should be a terrific session!
Registration $27.50 pp members and their invited guests, via email or phone/credit card (703-790-0320 or email@example.com. The authors' books will be for sale and they are willing to autograph. (RJ)
SECTION VI -- LETTERS
Larry S. Writes on Hezbollah -- Incidental Observation on Language: Pronunciation of Arabic Words. When I was at State, the people who knew about these things pronounced the word Hisp-Allah (Party of God). It made sense to me then and still does. Where Hezbollah came from I'll never know. Trouble is, TV news readers pronounce it Hez Bollah rather than Hesb Allah (a variation of Hisp Allah.) So does almost everyone else. But Muslims worship Allah, not Bollah.
Roger W wrote ref. Shirley Obit (17Ap03) -- Jack Shirley, who died a few days ago in Thailand, was liked by almost everyone who met him. He was genial and gregarious and a favorite of American expatriates in the bar scene in Patpong, the famous nightclub district in Bangkok.
However, the obituary published in the media is wrong on most of the major points. Jack Shirley didn't "help run" the Laos operation. He was a friend of the extraordinary but little-known paramilitary officer who did, a hugely talented and soft-spoken Texan named Bill Lair. Mr. Shirley and Mr. Lair arrived in Thailand about the same time, in the early 1950s. But, whereas Mr. Lair became the CIA's most successful organizer of indigenous armed forces in Southeast Asia - first with a 400-man special-operations unit of the Thai border police and then with an irregular force of Laotian tribesmen that grew to 30,000 - Jack Shirley played only a minor role. He helped run some training of Laotian tribesmen in 1961, came under attack by North Vietnamese regulars, led his men ably in a retreat under fire, then returned to the relative safety of Thailand for most of the Laos war years (1961-1973).
The real tragedy of the Laos war was that a few key CIA operatives, led by Bill Lair, tried to run an un-Vietnam-like war with as few Americans as possible. In the early 1960s, they were trying to support Laotian tribesmen in a legitimate, if secret, struggle against North Vietnamese invaders. Then the war in Vietnam itself sucked in America and Laos, and the whole thing went into a downward spiral from which it never recovered. The personal tragedy of the CIA's Southeast Asia hands such as Bill Lair and Jack Shirley is that they were highly loyal to the agency while quietly opposed to the wrong-headedness and bureaucratic stupidity shown by their government. They wanted to fight a much smarter, smaller and cheaper war, but there were too few of these men to change the course of events. (RJ)
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